Householder (Grihasthashram)

One Babaji Pant Hawaldar of Ranganagad, a nearby village, approached his teachers Ukidave and Alavani to get his rather plain looking daughter with a defective foot, married to Vasudeo.  Together, they practically settled the marriage without as much as a word to Vasudeo or to his mother Ramabai. When Ramabai learnt of this, she was dismayed at her son’s indifference. When Vasudeo later clarified to her that he knew nothing of the matter and nor had set eyes upon the girl. Also he explained that he did not have any plans to marry. She was then somewhat pacified. Eventually, Vasudeo had to bow to the wishes of his teachers and thus marry Babaji’s daughter Bayo whom, as per the custom Vasudeo’s mother christened as Sou. Annapurna. Vasudeo Shastri was 21 years old. Soon after the wedding he commenced the worship of ritual fire (smartagni) and completed a Gayatri purashcharan Subsequent to marriage, the need to earn some extra money took Vasudeo to Goa for a few months. He studied astrology with Shri Neelkanth Padye, a renowned astrologer in those days. Vasudeo’s sharp intellect and adherence to religious discipline, earned him the affection and respect Shri Padye. However, Vasudeo had soon to return to Mangaon because of the illness of his father Shri Ganesh Bhataji. Shri Padye had become so fond of Vasudeo Shastri that he kept his belongings to ensure Vasudeo’s return. This however was not to be, as it later turned out.

Vasudeo lost his pious and simple father at the age of 23(1877 AD). Shri Ganesh Bhataji was a spiritually evolved soul and knew the time of his death beforehand. He was only 56-57 at the time. Shastriji’s married life was not exactly a bed of roses. Sou. Annapurna never got along well with her mother-in-law. She had to suffer a lot of verbal and at times even corporal abuse at the hands of Vasudeo’s mother. Shastriji being a devoted son never even uttered a word in his wife’s defense, though he sympathized with her, lest his mother be offended. Annapurna felt neglected and at times rebelled by not cooperating in the various religious rituals, which formed such a major part of Shastriji’s life. These continuing domestic clashes sharpened his inherent detachment from worldly life. The thoughts of renouncing it all for an itinerant life were growing stronger by the day. One day, he left home quite determined to get initiated as a monk (Sanyasi) and went to Savantwadi. There, in a chance encounter, a spiritual being (>brahma-pishach) told him through the medium of Shri Aanaavkar, quite unexpectedly, that his thoughts of renunciation are premature and he has much work to do at Managaon. This made him change his mind. This particular brahm-pishach, on his own admission was the spirit of a learned and virtuous predecessor of Aanaavkar (a Brahmin) who accidentally killed a cow while trying to drive her away from his garden. He never revealed this to anybody nor did he perform the prescribed absolutions (prayaschhitta). On his death, the Chitragupta (Hindu angel of judgment) gave him a choice between being reborn as tiger or a brahm-pishach. He opted for the latter since this would preserve his memory and knowledge. According to him, these beings have a life span extending from hundreds to thousands of years. This Aanaavkar spirit was indeed very knowledgeable and was several times helpful in solving Shri Vasudeo Shastriji’s problems in astrology and scriptural interpretations.

2.4 million Recitations of Gayatri Mantra, accompanied by strict religious conduct over a period of time.


He now started feeling the urge to travel to Narasobawadi, the place where Shri Narsimh Saraswati Swami Maharaj, the second incarnation of Lord Dattatreya in the age of Kali (15th Century AD), spent 12 years in austerities, situated at the confluence of Krishna and Panchaganga rivers. The Lord Dattatreya is worshipped here in the form of His feet of Padukas (footprints) carved in stone installed under the ancient Audumbar tree, alongside the riverbed. Doubtful about his mother’s consent for traveling to Narasobawadi (also referred to as Wadi), he kept his thoughts to himself. One night a Brahmin appeared in his dreams and said,” Shastriji, if you are so keen to go to Wadi why don’t you? Your mother will surely consent and you will get company as well as the money!” After this dream, Shastriji spoke to his mother who said, “I have no objection! Make a trip if you so wish!” The other predictions in the dream also came true and Shastriji arrived in Wadi. On the way he was instructed through another dream to contact Shri Govind Swami a self-realized soul then staying in Wadi.

On reaching Wadi, Shastriji, after a wash in the holy waters of Krishna, climbed up the stairs to the temple in the river bed, to behold the holy feet of Lord Dattatreya. With a heart overflowing with devotion and eyes with blissful tears after the vision of the Lord, as he climbed up to the banks of river, he thought of Shri Govind Swami. Even as he was enquiring about the Swami, Govind Swami himself approached him, calling him in an unexpectedly familiar manner, "Welcome, Vasudev Shastri! When did you come?" The Swami then made arrangements for Shastriji’s stay at his quarters in the Brahmanand monastery.

Shri Govind Swami

Next day, Shastriji rose early well before sunrise, took the ritual dip in the Krishna River and wet and fresh from the dip, took a vessel full of the holy river water to be offered to the Padukas in the temple. The priests, doubting his Brahminhood, did not allow him into the sanctorum. Disappointed, Shastriji started climbing up the steps of the riverbank, when Shri Govind Swami, directed by the Lord Himself, came down the same steps and said, “Vasudeo Shastri! It appears the priests haven’t allowed you to bathe the Lord’s feet! Please come with me,” With these words he handed his sacred staff (Dand) to Shastriji and took him back to the temple. Thus accompanied by the revered sage, Shastriji was naturally allowed access to the Padukas, fulfilling his desire to wash and worship them with his own hands. From that day onwards Shri Govind Swami became the mentor and the guide of Shri Vasudeo Shastri.

One night, during his maiden stay in Wadi, Shastriji descended to the river to clean his feet. On his way back, he went to the temple and as he was circling it, he was suddenly confronted by a tall and radiant monk who admonished him, “Are you not aware of the rule forbidding visit to the temple after the night service?” Shastriji offered salutation and apologised. When he recounted this event, Shri Govind Swami told him that the monk was none other than Shri Narsimh Saraswati Himself. During this visit, Shastriji was initiated into the ritual worship of Shri Datta Padukas, in addition to the Panchayatan worship he was practicing by Shri Govind Swami, on instructions from Lord Dattatreya. He also performed ritual recitation of Shri Guru Charitra as directed by the Lord.
The scepter carried by the Sanyasi (Hindu Monk) as a mark of renunciation.

The lunar fast (Chandrayan krichhra)

By the time Shastriji returned from Wadi, the renovation of his old house was nearing completion. For the house warming rituals (Vastu Shanti), his wife did not join him within the auspicious time due to some household squabble. Dejected by this, Shastriji exclaimed, “No householder will live here. This place will be an asylum (dharmashala).” That indeed is what has come to pass. The ritual was perfunctorily completed by his brother Shri Hari Bhataji...
Such events continued to add to Shastriji’s detachment and goaded him to austerities to dissipate his sins and cleanse his mind as prescribed by scriptures. Thus he set out to undertake the rigorous lunar fast. The fast is to be commenced on a no moon day (Amavasya) by totally abstaining from food. On the first day of the bright moon fortnight, one serving of food of the size of hen’s egg is taken. This is increased by daily increments, to a meal of 15 servings on the full moon day. During the dark fortnight, the food intake is decreased by one serving each day till the next dark moon, when a total fast is observed. During this period, all daily injunctions viz. three baths and Sandhya thrice a day, other worships, recitations etc. continued.  Shastriji had instructed his family not to feed him anything, even water, in the event of his getting unconscious. The fast was safely concluded. However it left Shastriji so extremely weak and exhausted that he could hardly walk. Even so, he set out for Wadi along with his mother, for the celebration the birth anniversary of the Lord Dattatreya.

Wadi again

This time his stay in Wadi extended to four months. Shri Govind Swami urged him to undertake the path of dedication to Lord Dattatreya, which he ignored. The same night the Lord Himself appeared in his dream and bequeathed the mantra. Even as he woke up from his dream Shri Govind Swami called out from his bed, “Shastriji, did you get your mantra? Tomorrow, I shall explain to you the practice (vidhan).” This greatly accentuated Shastriji’s reverence for Shri Govind Swami whom he now accepted as his Guru and Master. Next day, Shri Govind Swami also directed him to read Shri Shankaracharya’s bhashya (exposition) on Upanishads.

Shri Mouni Swami

During this period, Shastriji’s urge for renunciation surfaced again. However Shri Mouni Swami told him that he has still a lot to be accomplished at Mangaon. Shri Mouni Swami hailed from the Solapur area. Renouncing home in childhood itself, in search of Divinity, he travelled to holy places traversing the country on foot from Kashi to Rameshwar several times, performing austerities and living only on neem leaves for years. At the youthful age of 25 years, he was initiated to ascetic life (Sanyasi) and given the name (Yogapatta) of Pradyumna Saraswati by his master. However, having abstained speech (Mouni) for several years, he came to be addressed as Mouni Swami. Absorbed always in the contemplation of the Brahma (Godhead), he had a child-like disposition. He was greatly respected and his utterances always came to pass. Even Lord Dattatreya seemed to respect his word. He passed away in Wadi only. He had great affection for Shastriji.

A compact Biography of Shri Vasudevanand Saraswati Tembe Swami Maharaj